Arduino Light Show FAQ

Once in a while, I get the same few questions about my Arduino light shows. I figured it would be a good idea to address those questions and throw in whatever extra information I can.

Q. Are you processing the audio in any way?

No. I tried a tutorial that uses Processing that identifies the levels of different frequency ranges in a song and the Arduino relays the info by way of LEDs, but I think that sort of thing is better suited for mood lighting or lighting features (like those water fountain speakers). My shows include LED patterns and moving servos that wouldn’t be controlled by this method, or at least it would likely be very difficult to do.

Q. Can you post your code?

I do not publicly post my code for the shows because they’re not really meant for other people to read and interpret. I do not document the code as I program the shows so there would be a lot of confusion as you try to follow along, which happens to me at times. As long as you know how to use the Servo libraries, for loops, and delays, there’s not much else to to know.

Q. How did you program the show?

It’s trial and error. The process is just replaying the song over and over and slowly adding on more code until I reach the end. (By the time I have a video up, I’m sick of the song.) There’s nothing neat or fancy about it.

Q. What went into building the show?

Talking about the latest show, there were a few key elements. It all started with two lines of breadboarded LEDs. The towers were constructed using cardboard and tissue paper to diffuse the RGB LED light in each tower. The “spotlights” were three servo motors with an RGB LED taped onto each servo horn. Behind the scenes was an Arduino Mega 2560 (compatible) along with three mini-breadboards to distribute power and to setup the resistors for some of the LEDs. Half of the wiring was 22AWG solid-core wire, the other half were female-to-male jumper wires.

Q. Inspirations?

World of Color at Disney California Adventure started it all. Canada’s Wonderland, my home park, upgraded their fountains over the past couple of years so that has also helped inspire me to continue. I also ran a short-lived (like they all are) website called More Than Starlight that was a blog and database for fountain and light shows. I discovered many amazing shows across the world which helped build up to my first light show.

Visit the Light Show project webpage here.

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